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rod mickleburgh

As John Diefenbaker used to say: I'm back!

And already, Attorney-General Barry Penner has resigned, clearly reeling from the e-mail query I sent him a scant 20 hours previously.

The ever-available Mr. Penner managed a reply to my electronic missive Wednesday evening, but it was clearly one Mickleburgh e-mail too many. By noon Thursday, the province was looking for a new AG.

Dare I send one next to Social Development Minister Harry Bloy?

But back to Barry, a fine, affable fellow rarely at a loss for words during his earlier tenure as Minister of the Environment, at least when Gordon Campbell wasn't hogging the spotlight with grand pronouncements about carbon taxes, greenhouse-gas emissions, global warming, and the like.

Gordo grabbed the big stuff. Mr. Penner did the best he could with what remained.

Fireball cats during Earth Hour? Barry was there. "[My wife and I]enjoyed a very romantic candlelit dinner that was only interrupted when our cat set himself on fire by brushing up against the flame."

A yellow-bellied marmot named Roger that invaded the grounds of the Empress Hotel? The Minister charged over to lecture two women for feeding the cuddly critter Rice Krispie squares. "It's not good for them," he explained.

Toads? "I've never kissed a toad," Mr. Penner memorably assured the legislature, during a discussion of NDP MLA Michelle Mungall's early dating history. "Unlike the member for Nelson-Creston."

Snow surveys? He was on the scene. "Of the 10 specific places we went to measure snow, eight did not have any snow and two just had little patches. It's an indicator there isn't a lot of snow …," Mr. Penner confided to The Globe and Mail.

It was not long before Mr. Penner became the only MLA with his own fan blog, entitled "Barry Penner is AWESOME!" You can look it up.

Despite his surprise resignation, the blog will likely remain as a tribute to "the awesomeness of Barry Penner, Private Citizen," its administrator told me in an e-mail, even as he hoped it was all a ruse "designed to lure all the province's bad guys into a false sense of security. Then, when they least expect it, BAM! Barry Penner! Right between the eyes!"

We're gonna miss the guy.

Harper the Woody Allen fan

Spending, as I do, most of my Internet free time researching the complexities of carbon trading, I've only now twigged to a posting on the Conservative Party's website that suggests there are 10 things I may not know about our dear leader, Stephen Harper.

None of them involve his love of Parcheesi on dark, stormy nights, or a fondness for kicking back after hours with Tony Clement.

It turns out that Steve-O is waaay more interesting than I thought. He's a big fan of curling, for instance. He was once a paperboy for the late, long-lamented Toronto Telegram ("Smelly Tely, stinky Star, Globe and Mail is best by far," we rival Globe paperboys used to chant.) Mr. Harper also had a coin collection, and he harbours stray cats, though none cool enough to play saxophone, apparently. Talk about your wild and crazy guy from Etobicoke.

Plus, get this. According to the Tory website: "He loves movies." Who knew? The site helpfully lists three of Mr. Harper's favourite movies.

One of them, and I'm not making this up, is none other than Crimes and Misdemeanors. Not only does the film have a rather intriguing title for a prime minister to embrace, it's a dark tale by one of moviedom's most amoral directors, Woody Allen. Leavened by some funny bits, the story is basically about a guy who gets away with ordering the murder of his mistress by a hit man. There is no hint anything is wrong with that.

Of all the movies in all the world, this is one of Stephen Harper's favourites? And I thought prorogation was bad.

I was so shocked by his choice that I first thought the website had been hacked. But The Globe's Jane Taber, who knows about this sort of thing, says she doesn't think so.

What did I expect? Hairspray, maybe. The Man Who Would Be King. Or perhaps that motorcycle movie, which Mr. Harper may have attended early on in his courtship of bike-loving, wife-to-be Laureen. You know … The Mild One.

Rubber walkway

Everything happens when I'm away, so I missed the recent unveiling of Vancouver's first rubber sidewalk. At first, I thought this was a sly, Vision Vancouver gift to NPA Councillor Suzanne Anton to make it easier for her to bounce about on the Hornby Street bike-lane issue, but no. It's just another green thing.

Residents noticed immediately. "It feels rubbery," said one.